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Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic and disinfectant, which is effective against a wide range of bacteria, yeasts, and some viruses.

Last Modified: 21 May 2024

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What is Chlorhexidine?

Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic and disinfectant that is effective against many bacteria, yeasts, and viruses. The active ingredient, chlorhexidine gluconate, is often used in medical settings and is available in various formulations. 

Chlorhexidine is synthesized through a series of organic reactions that result in the cationic molecule known for its antiseptic properties. It is not naturally occurring and is manufactured in pharmaceutical facilities. 

Global Name

Generic Names:

Chlorhexidine is the generic name for the drug.

Global Brand Names:

  • Hibiclens - A skin cleanser often used in hospitals. Commonly available in the United States. 
  • Peridex or Periogard - Chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwashes used for oral hygiene and treatment of periodontal diseases. These mouthwashes are typically available in North America. 
  • Corsodyl - A brand of mouthwash and dental gel. This brand is widely available in the United Kingdom and many other European countries. 
  • ChloraPrep - (combined with 70% isopropyl alcohol); Used globally for skin preparation before surgery. 
  • Savlon - In some formulations, chlorhexidine is combined with other antiseptics. This is available in the UK, India, and other parts of Asia and Africa. 
  • Bactoshield - A scrub used for surgical hand disinfection and skin antisepsis. 


What is Chlorhexidine used for? 

Chlorhexidine is primarily used for its antiseptic properties. It is employed in: 

  • Skin and wound cleansing 
  • Preoperative skin preparations 
  • Oral rinses to treat gingivitis 
  • Central venous and arterial catheter site preparation and care 

How do you use Chlorhexidine? 


Chlorhexidine comes in various forms, including solutions, gels, and oral rinses.

Dosage information:

  • Solutions for skin cleansing: Use as directed for wound cleaning or preoperative preparation. 
  • Oral rinses: 10-15 ml is typically used to rinse the mouth for 30 seconds twice daily. 


  • Children: Following a healthcare provider's advice, can be used cautiously. 
  • Adults: Generally safe when used as recommended. 
  • Elderlies: May use under similar guidelines as for adults. 
  • Pregnancy & lactation: Generally safe for use including as oral rinse and as antiseptic preparation of the vagina & pelvic areas before delivery; if used to clean the breasts and nipples, chlorhexidine solution needs to be washed off before breastfeeding.

Who cannot take Chlorhexidine?

  • Children: Not recommended for very young children, especially under 2 months due to risk of accidental ingestion. 
  • Adults: Those with hypersensitivity to chlorhexidine should avoid use. 
  • Elderlies: Should be used with caution, considering the overall health. 

Allergies and unsuitability:

Those allergic to chlorhexidine or any ingredients in the formulations should not use it. It is also important to avoid contact with the eyes, ears, and mouth (except when using as an oral rinse). 

Interactions and contraindications:

Chlorhexidine may interact with other topical agents and be inactivated by soaps or other anionic compounds.

Side Effects

Common side effects include skin irritation, itching, or mild burning sensation. Severe allergic reactions are rare. 

Pharmacist Tips

Storage information:

  • Storage: Keep at room temperature in its original container and away from children. 
  • Handling: Wear gloves for skin application and do not swallow oral rinse. 
  • Application: Clean and dry the area before applying, let it air dry without wiping. 
  • Concentration: Use the concentration as directed by your healthcare provider. 
  • Avoid Contamination: For oral rinses, measure the dose into a cup. 
  • Monitoring: Watch for allergic reactions and seek medical attention if necessary. 
  • Do Not Mix: Do not mix with other substances unless a professional advises. 
  • Correct Usage: Apply gels sparingly and only cover if instructed by a doctor. 

Always follow the product instructions or a healthcare provider's guidance when using Chlorhexidine.


Where is Chlorhexidine available in Hong Kong?

Chlorhexidine is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication that can be sold without a prescription. It is found in all chain drug stores, including Mannings and Watsons.


Is Chlorhexidine for purchase over the counter?

Yes, many chlorhexidine formulations are available over the counter.

Can Chlorhexidine be used for all types of wounds?

It is suitable for general wound cleansing but not for wounds involving the middle ear or nervous system.

How long should Chlorhexidine be used for skin preparation before surgery?

Follow the specific instructions a healthcare provider provides or the product label for preoperative skin preparation.


This website provides content related to drug use and medicine for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Do not use the information on this website to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified healthcare provider. The website's owners and contributors are not liable for any repercussions, adverse effects, or consequences resulting from the use of any medication or information provided herein.

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